No one told the federal government that R.S. died on March 26, 1990.

And on Monday, in federal court in Camden, it became clear why.

Michael Shelton, 65, of Pennsauken, admitted to U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle that for years he had been taking Social Security checks coming in the name of his late father, a man identified in court papers only as R.S.

Over the years, the checks totaled $204,606, each deposited in a bank account that Shelton opened in his father's name after his father's death.

By the time the fraud was uncovered, in June 2012, checks were being issued for $997 a month.

If Shelton's father followed the typical path, he would have been about 65 when he started receiving Social Security benefits in January 1974. When he died in 1990, he would have been about 80.

But, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration, R.S. apparently was alive, living on his checks, turning 100 in 2010 and about 102 when the fraud was uncovered.

In court, the son admitted to one count of theft of government funds.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 1. Michael Shelton faces up to face 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The government, represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson, is seeking forfeiture of $204,606 of Shelton's assets.

Shelton was represented by federal public defender Thomas Young.

Contact Jane Von Bergen at, @JaneVonBergen on Twitter, or at 215-854-2769. Read her workplace blog at